780.022/10–2752: Telegram

No. 1489
The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia 1


272. SA Emb informed Dept Oct 25 tripartite comm proposal made to Brit in ltr Oct 23 (Jidda tel Dept 276 Lon 142 and Lon tel Dept 2452, Jidda 32, Dhahran 223) but did not request official reaction from USG. Dept officer receiving info made brief comment very similar para 3 Jidda 276. On Oct 28 SA Emb informed Dept King requesting US respond to proposal. Response not yet given.

Dept feels latest Saudi moves (Lon 2452) are attempt enhance possibility obtaining perhaps undeservedly favorable settlement Buraimi dispute and reveal Saudi intent utilize help USG to maximum advantage and in ways not compatible maintenance smooth relations with Brit.

Dept had hoped for immed resumption direct talks which wld incl Buraimi. Difficult rationalize King’s anxiety for quick solution (Jidda 276) with new requests (Lon 2452) all which will delay resumption talks.

Dept believes standstill agreement (Dhahran tel Dept 91, Jidda 70, Lon 54) meant be applicable only Buraimi. Saudi desire extend neighboring area likely exacerbate situation, prolonging delay of solution and increasing rather than decreasing tension (Lon tels Dept 2214, Jidda 27, Dhahran 15,5 2236, Jidda 28, Dhahran 16,6 and 2452).

[Page 2493]

Saudi proposal tripartite comm made in face already expressed US coolness idea (Deptel 219, Lon 2758, Dhahran 1077) begins suggest calculated effort avoid direct negots re Buraimi.

Saudi suggestion fact-finding groups connection resumption Dammam talks may well mean talks will not begin till after groups have done work, which cld be months. Delay cld be used as ammunition by Saudis for arguing since talks Dammam cannot start only way settle Buraimi dispute and ease tension immed is by means tripartite comm to Buraimi. FYI Dept desires avoid participation any fact-finding or tripartite groups or for that matter any substantive involve settlement boundary disputes.

On Oct 30 Brit approached Dept8 to solicit support proposal Buraimi dispute be submitted arbitration (Lon 2452). Dept to reply next few days. . . .

Dept favors arbitration Buraimi dispute if seems clear direct negots wld not be fruitful or not desired by Saudis. UK regards direct talks as useless. Dept inquiring ur views entire picture as outlined this tel replying to UK.

Emb Jidda authorized own discretion tell SAG Dept appreciates confidence shown in asking US participate tripartite comm but USG prefers not take part since still believes direct negots shld be given trial.

  1. Drafted by Sturgill and cleared by BNA and E. Repeated to London and Dhahran.
  2. Not printed, but see footnote 2, supra .
  3. Not printed; it reported the British representative had signed a standstill arrangement with the Saudis for the Buraimi oasis. The Saudis, however, had then made three further requests: A resumption of the Damman conference and dispatch of a fact-finding commission to the disputed areas, with the exception of Buraimi; the extension of the standstill agreement to cover other disputed areas in the Buraimi region; and the sending of a tripartite commission made up of representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia to the Buraimi region to determine the allegiance of the inhabitants. The British Foreign Office was disturbed by the Saudi requests and was urgently considering suggesting arbitration of the whole boundary problem. If Eden agreed the matter should go to arbitration, the British Embassy in Washington would be instructed to consult with the Department of State to enlist support for the proposal. (780.022/10–2752)
  4. Document 1481.
  5. Not printed, but see footnote 3, Document 1485.
  6. Dated Oct. 16, not printed. It reported the Foreign Office had instructed Pelham to try to finalize the standstill arrangement in Buraimi, but not to agree to Saudi requests restricting the Sultan of Muscat. (780.022/10–1652)
  7. Document 1487.
  8. Two members of the British Embassy called at the Department of State on Oct. 30 to ask the United States to support the idea of arbitration, since the idea of direct talks seemed to be useless. The Foreign Office considered the Saudis had used unfair means to establish their influence on Buraimi and areas the British felt belonged to Muscat, and suggested that a plebiscite conducted among people who had been bribed would be unfair. (Memorandum of conversation, Oct. 30. 641.86A/10–3052)